View Full Version : Steelers: Clark should play it safe

11-01-2009, 08:52 AM
(Mods feel free to move this to one of the existing Clark threads but this article does speculate on how will replace Clark if he doesn't start and it isn't Carter That might be a subject worthy of some discussion. - mesa)

Steelers: Clark should play it safe
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By: Mike Bires
Beaver County Times
Sunday November 1, 2009 12:10 AM

If I’m Ryan Clark, I’m not playing next Monday night in Denver.

Because his health is more important than one regular-season game, he should have another bye next week.

Over the past several days as the Steelers rested during their Week 8 bye, their highly regarded free safety has agonized about his decision to play or not play at Invesco Field at Mile High. He’s continued to meet with physicians who are advising him on this most delicate situation.

As a sickle cell trait carrier, Clark experienced severe health problems the last time the Steelers played in Denver. The combination of over-exerting himself in the game and low oxygen levels in the Rocky Mountain air caused Clark’s blood to negatively affect his spleen.

Clark had to have his spleen and gall bladder removed because he played that night in Denver. Not only was there doubt that he might never play football again, there were also moments when he feared he might die.

Clark said that physicians have told him his risks this time are lower because he no longer has his spleen and gall bladder. He’s also been told that if he plays, he would be closely monitored throughout the game and given proper amounts of oxygen and fluids.

Still, Clark has not been given assurance that he’s danger-free if he plays.

As an intense competitor, Clark wants to play. This is a big game. The Broncos could be 7-0. The Steelers (5-2) figure to be in a season-long battle with Cincinnati (5-2) and maybe Baltimore (3-3) for the AFC North title. So every win they can get is significant.

But more than anything, Clark must think about his wife, Yonka, and their three young children when making his decision.

Clark, 30, has a few seasons of football left before he calls it a career. But his wife and kids will be with him for the rest of his life.

Is having another setback, perhaps a career or life-threatening setback, worth the risk?

Clark is definitely flying to Denver with his teammates. In a day or so, Clark will decide if he’ll play.
Advertisement JJ Spratt Funeral Home

I hope he says no.

Mundy on Monday?

If Clark doesn’t play, there’s a chance second-year pro Ryan Mundy would make his first NFL start.

Tyrone Carter, a 10-year veteran, is also an option. But Carter didn’t play well in his four starts at strong safety when Troy Polamalu sat out four games earlier this year with a sprained knee.

Carter is a liability in pass defense. Don’t be surprised if Mundy gets the nod.

Back to Denver

With all this debate about Clark playing next Monday in Denver, keep in mind that there’s a chance the Steelers might have to play there again in the playoffs.

There’s a lot of football left, but the Broncos could have home-field advantage for one or all of its playoff games.

Holmes’ condition

Steelers wide receiver Santonio Holmes also has the sickle cell trait. He played in Denver two years ago without any significant health issues, although he did have trouble breathing.

Holmes will play against the Broncos.

Timmons types

If it’s up to Lawrence Timmons, he’ll play against the Broncos. By then, he should be fully recovered from the ankle sprain that forced him to leave last week’s win over Minnesota.

At least that’s what Timmons, an inside linebacker, says in his blog on his Web site, www.timmons94.com.

“It’s a Grade 1 sprain, not a big deal, and it’s the other ankle from the one I hurt earlier in the season,” Timmons wrote.

“I should come back faster than I did from that high ankle sprain. I should be able to make it back for the Denver game, which will be Nov. 9 on Monday Night Football.”

Mike Bires can be reached online at mbires@timesonline.com

11-01-2009, 01:12 PM
Clark is definitely flying to Denver with his teammates. In a day or so, Clark will decide if he’ll play.
Advertisement JJ Spratt Funeral Home

I hope he says no.

Did anyone else find it morbidly ironic that the advertisement for this article came from a funeral home?